By later prehistory both Japan and Britain had become complex in terms of their settlement structures and the range of material culture being routinely deposited in some locations. Often in both situations there has been an assumption that the monumentality and the defended nature of some settlements indicates increasing inequality and, in particular, concentration of power and resources in the hands of an elite. By the time that Chinese and Roman writers examined both places there is a clear notion that kingship was to some extent institutionalised. By that time in Japan the construction of some of the largest burial mounds in the world were underway.
Our project is focusing on materials from these periods which suggest significant social changes towards greater complexity and hierarchy. Weapons, monumentality, resource concentration and the development of wealth proxies such as coinage will be mapped and comparisons drawn. The nature of continental contacts and neighbouring change will be charted to map the routes of incoming artefacts. Religion and belief was also a factor in social differentiation and played a role in how these societies interacted with continental neighbours. This can be seen in the Chinese and Greco-Roman contemporary literature, with the interest in Britain as the stronghold of the Druids and the suggestion that Himiko was a shamanic queen.
The project is in its development stage. The next phase will be the creation of a network of researchers, followed by a grant application for the research phase and publication of the findings.